seeing psychiatrist for first time should have advocate, government
by Mike Jones
patients having their first appointment with a psychiatrist should
be accompanied by an advocate, the government is urging.
new Department of Health guide outlines how it believes service
providers can meet the requirements of a race equality action plan
aiming to eliminate the discrimination of black and ethnic minority
people within NHS mental health services
guide states: “For patients from African-Caribbean communities,
fear of services can be particularly acute.
an advocate (with expertise in translation where necessary) on hand
during the first interview can help to settle and ease a patient
Mental health minister Rosie Winterton has said there is “no
excuse for inaction" for service providers who do not meet
their duty to end discrimination.
In 2005, a five year action plan, entitled Delivering Race Equality
In Mental Health Care, detailed how the government plans to root
out anti-discriminatory practice in mental health.
The guide, entitled Positive Steps - Supporting Race Equality in
Mental Health Care, lists numerous examples of existing good practice.
However, the Commission for Racial Equality announced last month
that it has launched an investigation into whether the government's
planned new mental health law might break race law.
say a mental health bill, due to be introduced before the House
of Commons after Easter, will fail to address discrimination, including
the disproportionate rate that black people are being compulsory
Department of Health's Positive
Steps guide (pdf)
2, 2006: Mental health racism claims "meaningless" and
"insulting", claim psychiatry professors - social
exclusion and low socio-economic status largely causes race inequality
figures, argue Swaran Singh and Tom Burns
Dec 7, 2005: 'We'll end racism in mental health' says minister -
Rosie Winterton pledge follows report revealing black people are
three times more likely to be admitted to psychiatric hospital
David Glasgow, forensic clinical psychologist, self employed
March 22, 2007
As far as I can see, the headline is inaccurate. Psychiatrists aren't
specifically mentioned in the relevant section. This of course makes
a lot of sense, because the first contact point between mental health
services and an individual is often not a psychiatrist.
So, insofar as anything is "urged", it also applies to
CPNs social workers etc. and also the non-specific professionals
sometimes used to 'triage' referrals.
stigmatise further black people
David Bowker, retired consultant psychiatrist, Manchester
August 7, 2007
this suggestion if implemented would rather stigmatise the group
involved. I don't think any of my former black colleagues (if we
are forced to talk in those terms) would take kindly to this suggestion
should they require the psychiatric services themselves.
is also the problem of an advocate making it more difficult to engage
in a direct and personal way with a patient. However, should anyone
(irrespective of racial origins) feel the need for a friend or advocate
to be present, then this could always be accommodated in the usual
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